Giovani Bernard has the fourth most rushing yards of any NFL player who is not the
teams leading rusher. The three players ahead of Bernard have all played one more
game than he he has (due to the Bengals’ early season bye). In fact, Bernard has more
rushing yards than the leading rusher on six NFL teams.
Bernard is listed as the Cincinnati Bengals second-string running back. He has 27 fewer carries so far this season than Jeremy Hill, the Bengals first-string running back, but with his 299 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns plus his 277 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown, Bernard is an important part of a Bengals offense that is sixth in the NFL in total yards per game, fourth in passing yards per game, and seventh in rushing yards per game.
Bernard entered the NFL in 2013. He has been a backup running back his whole
career, but he still averaged 701.7 rushing yards and 345.0 receiving yards in his first
three seasons; he has over 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards each of those
seasons. He also ran for 12 touchdowns and caught five touchdowns.
In Bernard’s rookie season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the Bengals’ starting running
back. He and Bernard combined for 1,451 rushing yards. Hill entered the NFL in 2014
and became the Bengals’ starting running back. In 2014 Hill and Bernard combined for 1,804 rushing yards; in 2015 they combined for 1,524rushing yards. This season, they are on pace to combine for 1,628 rushing yards.
Bernard has not gotten the most carries on the team in any of the seasons he has been with the Bengals, but he understands his role on the team. “It’s so important,” Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis said. “And he understands the importance of it. I think a lot of guys think, ‘I got to be the guy. If I can’t be the guy then I can’t stay here.’ Well, Gio understands, I need to share being the guy and we’ll be better and I’ll be better if I can share the load with another player.”